Thursday, March 5, 2009


A pretty cool story in the NYT about a gathering of "fisher poets." If some of the verse sounds wretched--but really, not much worse than the Andrew Motion poems I linked to previously--it doesn't sound half as bad as the wide-eyed comments of the non-fishers present:

“I have to set aside my English-teacher hat now and then,” said Fred Chancey, recently retired from Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore., who showed up for the second year in a row, just to listen. “But a lot of it is really good stuff. I like the blue-collar school of poetry.”

My, how enlightened! Or how about:

“This is the closest I’ve been to a boat like this,” said Ted Osborn, an architect who, with his wife Wendy, is waiting for their new retirement home overlooking the Columbia to be completed. “We lived for 30 years in Southern California, where pretentiousness is king. This place is much more real.”

Oh, Ted and Wendy, please tell me what you mean by this horrific cliché. Perhaps you can contemplate the matter in your no-doubt ostentatious riverside retirement home.

There have, of course, been fishermen who have produced really good poetry. Scottish poet WS Graham is probably the best known. We've got a couple of good 'uns here, too, in Tim Bowling--whose work is frustratingly uneven, but sizzles at its best--and Joe Denham. Bowling hasn't fished in years, but Denham's still at it, working out of Sechelt. I have the feeling that, besides mending traps in the off-season, he's working on some good poems. It's been six years since his first book, Flux, was launched. It was uneven, probably, like most of our first books, mine included, published too early--but the best work in it's excellent, and quite unlike anything else published in this country.

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